I have incorporated a feedback from the readers. Some laws looked too selfish and the choice of words have not really resonated with the readers. Some have not resonated with me neither.
This time I will be adding the interpretation to the laws too.
Law #11: Learn To Keep People Dependent On You
To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have.
My interpretation of law #11: Do not be useful, be critical
Being useful is nice, being critical is vital. Earn your criticality by building your deep expertise based on first hand practical experience. Align your expertise to what counts the most. Further reading.
Law #12: Use Selective Honesty And Generosity To Disarm Your Victim
Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will.
My interpretation of law #12: Build vulnerability based trust
Building trust is a bedrock for lasting relationship. Returning customer is a great proof for established trust and healthy business. I hardly believe a customer would call a consultant with broken trust, even if the consultant is a top performer. I wouldn’t, would you? Build your trust by slowly revealing your vulnerabilities, make sure the other side does the same. When the trust is broken – resort to thirty six stratagems. Further reading:
Law #13: When Asking For Help, Appeal To People’s Self Interest, Never To Their Mercy Or Gratitude
If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. He will find a way to ignore you. Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him tat will benefit him and emphasize it out of all proportion.
My interpretation of law #13: Build your WIIFM network
WIIFM – What’s In It For Me. It is a basic skill of Influence Without Authority. You build alliances offering value in first place. Collect as much information as possible. Ask questions. Build a profile for your potential ally then offer what he values the most. Ask for value in return. Further reading:
Law #14: Pose As A Friend, Work As A Spy
Use spies to gather valuable information that will keep you a step ahead…Ask indirect questions to get people to reveal their weaknesses and intentions.
My interpretation of law #14: Ask questions, reveal latent problems
Collecting detailed information is crucial. Only trust verifiable information. It’s not that people will lie to you, the opposite is true – people will flood you with the information. Chances are the information misinterpreted or not first hand. Ask more question and correlate. Further reading:
- What’s The Powerful Skill Of All? Is It Asking The Right Questions?
- Ask Your Customers’ Friends – Your Growth Hides There
Law #15: Crush Your Enemy Totally
All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely… The enemy will recover, and will see revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.
My interpretation of law #15: Give real solution, not workaround
See the problem at hand as you enemy. Fight it until you destroy it. Never settle for a workaround. It’ll backfire at you later. Take my word for granted, you will be called onsite by a customer to fix old problem, …free of charge – you cannot charge twice for one thing, right? Remember about your trust – guard it by building real solutions, not workarounds. Further reading:
- Consultants, Beware Of Procrastinators, Disengaged, And Distracters!
- Best Kept Secret Of Successful Consulting – Model The Best
Law #16: Use Absence To Increase Respect And Honor
Too much circulation makes the price go down: The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear… Create value through scarcity.
My interpretation of law #16: Focus on value generation vs. hourly utilization
Time is the scarcest resource for a Consultant. It is the scarcest resource for anybody, including your customers. If you master to manage it right you will increase respect and honor. In fact – do not try to manage time – treat it as a budget and invest in most impactful stuff, stuff that matters. Further reading:
Law #17: Keep Other In Suspended Terror: Cultivate An Air Of Unpredictability
Humans are creatures of habit with an insatiable need to see familiarity in other people’s actions. Your predictability gives them a sense of control.
My interpretation of law #17: Work by the book, offer creative solutions
Here is a little story. I was working with a customer. The customer was asking me tough questions right from the start demanding very precise solutions. I was shooting classic answers off the heap, but then he told me this: “I do not accept it only because it’s written in the book.” I was kind of disarmed, but I insisted: “Well, this is how everybody does it and it proves it’s effectiveness time after time, that is why we will do it to.” Then I added: “… as a start. And if it’ll prove it’s working we’ll continue with it, if not – we will put our Creative Hat.” There was some tension toward the final solution which was in the end a mix of classics and new creative stuff. Further reading:
- Best Kept Secret Of Successful Consulting – Model The Best
- Mark Twain Quotes – Motivation Super Power (WARNING – Addicting)
Law #18: Do Not Build Fortresses To Protect Yourself – Isolation Is Dangerous
A fortress seems the safest. But isolation exposes your to more dangers than it protects you from – it cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Better to circulate among people, find allies, mingle. You are shielded from your enemies by the crowd.
My interpretation of law #18: Be in the field (including online)
You can be a superhero but if no one knows about it your expertise won’t get be utilized, let alone used. Go off and be there in the field. Experience stuff first hand – know the jargon, speak their language, feel their pain, solve their problems. If you do – they will market you on your behalf. Share the solutions on your blog – break the limit of time and space. Further reading:
Law #19: Know Who You’re Dealing With – Do Not Offend The Wrong Person
Deceive or outmaneuver some people and they will spend the rest of their lives seeking revenge. They are wolves in lambs’ clothing. Choose your victims and opponents carefully, then – never offend or deceive the wrong person.
My interpretation of law #19: Do not offend yourself, stick with your values
I am pretty sure the most important thing for me is being aligned to my personal values. It is one of the 4 Dimensions Of Personal Power. If I want to keep my personal power high, I stick with my values. The other secret weapon that worked for me to keep me out of troubles is applying Emotional Intelligence Core Skills. Stick with your values and keep cool. You’ll beat them all if you win yourself first. Further reading:
Law #20: Do Not Commit To Anyone
It is the fool who always rushes to take sides. Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself. By maintaining your independence, you become the master of others – playing people against one another, making them pursue you.
My interpretation of law #20: “It depends” is Consultant’s best answer to anything
It is interesting that the original law resonates with one of the principals of Lean Software Development – defer commitments. Consultant should offer options and tools for decisions. It’s up to the customer to make the final decision. The Consultant can take sides but offer alternatives. Do not fall in trap of becoming decision maker on customer’s behalf. Further reading:
- Seven Characteristics Of High Performing Consultant
- Two Crucial Lessons Every Consultant Must Learn First
- Three Laws Of Consulting By Gerald M. Weinberg